The pile of my family’s old shirts gets larger every month. We have a few shirts that we are loathe to get rid of. Several of them, like my old college tees, just bring back great memories, even though I don’t wear them anymore. This is an easy, three-step tutorial for making a DIY market tote bag with an old tee. It only requires one (straight) line of sewing, so it’s perfect for beginner sewers and up. Plus, it will take no more than ten minutes to make from start to finish (including sewing time). This is a great way to put those old shirts to good use.

Here’s what you’ll need:
Old T-shirt
Straight pins
Sewing machine


Step 1: To start, turn the T-shirt inside out. Then, fold a pleat into each side and pin to keep the folds in place.

Step 2: To close up the bottom of the bag, sew a zig-zag stitch along the bottom of the T-shirt. Also, make sure to back-tack on each end. Back-tacking prevents the stitches from unraveling. Most sewing machines have a reverse button that allows you to easily back-tack.

Step 3: For the last step, cut off the sleeves and neck hole to create the straps for the tote. Turn the tote right side out. It’s ready to use!

The great thing about this tote is that it can be made with any sturdy cotton T-shirt and will hold plenty of groceries, picnic items, etc. I was able to add several glass bottles of water, ten to fifteen pieces of fruit, and a blanket, with plenty of room left over (and without straining the handles). Definitely a sturdy, affordable option for an easy tote.

Take it further: You can also dip-dye or stencil your finished tote to personalize it. Or use a decal T-shirt for a little extra personality.